Chris Wood led a host of players chasing their maiden European Tour victory as the third round of the BMW International Open third round unfolded.
The 24 year old Englishman turned in a three under par 33 to reach 12 under at Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne.
That put the three-time runner-up one ahead of compatriot Danny Willett, who has recorded 19 top-ten victories without success in his four seasons on Tour.
The former Walker Cup star was two under for the day through 12, with two more players yet to win; South African Keith Horne and another Englishman – Andrew Marshall – on ten under.
Home favourite Marcel Siem, from Mettmann which is less than an hour’s drive from the course, had earlier surged into contention.
The former Dunhill Championship winner eagled the par four first from 75 yards and added three birdies to turn in 31.
Three birdies and a bogey from the tenth took him to 12 under, but three bogeys in the last four holes – including a missed putt from three feet at the 17th after a long wait to see if Siem had moved his ball during his pre-shot routine – saw the German finish nine under.
“Luckily I didn’t get a penalty shot, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “I addressed the ball and there was a breeze downwind. The putter got a little bit close to the ball and pressed on the ball.
“I didn’t know the rule and John Paramor said as the ball didn’t move there was no penalty shot. It’s a funny one.
“I had a great start and really enjoyed it with a big crowd behind me. It was a great round of golf and I’m in there. Hopefully I’m in contention for tomorrow.”
First-round leaders Fabrizio Zanotti and Marcus Fraser and Swede Joel Sjöholm, who topped the leaderboard at the halfway stage, were also in the group on nine under.